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May 30, 2020

This page last modified:
March 21, 2001

Science Conference Focuses on the Future of Florida Bay

by Dianne Berger,

University of Florida/Monroe County Cooperative Extension

Florida Bay Education Project

Florida Bay is a vital part of the south Florida ecosystem restoration project and will be the topic of an annual conference on November 1 - 5 at the Westin Beach Resort in Key Largo.

Hosted by the Florida Bay and Adjacent Marine Systems Program Management Committee and Florida Sea Grant, the meeting gathers nearly 300 scientists to share their research on Florida Bay. This year's conference has expanded to include presentations by scientists studying the adjacent waters of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The Program Management Committee (PMC), representing federal and state agencies sponsoring research in the bay, identifies and coordinates needed research to ensure the most cost effective use of available funds. This program was established in 1994 to build a Strategic Science Plan critical to the restoration of Florida Bay. The goal of the PMC is to provide a scientific understanding of Florida Bay to resource managers and policymakers in a timely fashion as restoration actions are undertaken.

The Florida Bay Science Conference will be addressing the five central questions that the Science Plan revolves around and can best be summarized as:

  • How are water circulation and salinity patterns within and outside of the bay affected by storms, changes in freshwater flows, sea level rise and evaporation/precipitation patterns?
  • What is the importance of nutrient input to the bay? Where are the nutrients coming from and how are they used?
  • What controls the onset, persistence and fate of algae blooms?
  • What is causing the changes in seagrass communities? How will they be affected by changes in salinity, light and nutrient levels?
  • How do the water quality changes and habitat loss affect animals living in and around Florida Bay?

The long term goal of the Florida Bay Science Program is to understand how the bay functions as part of a larger south Florida regional system that is strongly influenced by human actions.

Scientists use computer models to investigate the sensitivity of Florida Bay to these actions, specifically those that may be undertaken for the purpose of restoring or conserving the Everglades and Florida Bay. Of particular importance is the need to model the effects of modifying water management practices in the Everglades and structural modifications to improve circulation between Florida Bay and the Atlantic Ocean through the Florida Keys.

The computer models simulate water levels, water flow and water quality of the entire south Florida watershed. The results of the models will enable natural resource managers to predict what may happen downstream in the bay prior to making upstream decisions. The current status and future applications of these modeling efforts will be the focus of attention at the conference.

If you are interested in registering for this conference or want to know more about what is happening in Florida Bay, contact the Florida Bay Education Project office at the address listed below, or check out our website:

For more information on this research, contact the Florida Bay Education Project at 305-852-3592. Additional information on a variety of topics is available from the University of Florida/Monroe County Cooperative Extension Service, 5100 College Road, Stock Island or call at 292-4501; fax: 292-4415; email: or visit our web site Our services are free and available to all without regard to race, color, sex, or national origin.

The Florida Bay Education Project is an archived site. For more information go to NOAA's South Florida Ecosystem Education Project at